The “Opportunity Scholarship” program pushed by Republican legislators as another slap at public schools in North Carolina is woefully misguided in principle. But Gov. Roy Cooper, an opponent of the program, makes an entirely valid point in noting the voucher program lacks serious accountability.
In a recent meeting with education leaders, Cooper said, “We really don’t know what these (private) schools are doing or how they are performing. Instead, we need to invest in our public schools.”
The voucher program is preposterous. While parents qualify if they have a child who is disabled, is from a low-income family, lives in a foster home or has a parent in the military, Republican lawmakers want to expand the voucher program beyond that. The truth is, they’d like to have a voucher program that would be available to virtually all families.
Cooper and critics of the program note that the private schools lack the oversight of public ones. Students on vouchers have to take a standardized test and have the results reported to the state, but other accountability measures for regular public schools don’t apply to the private ones with students on vouchers. The governor says the state doesn’t have adequate data on the performance levels of private schools getting that voucher money, and he’s right.
The voucher program is politically motivated, wasteful and harmful to conventional schools that still serve the vast majority of North Carolina families, and serve them well.